Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Complete solitude – Part 1

Author: Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

The journalists have finished all the interviews, the publishers have all taken the train back to Zurich, the friends I had dinner with have all gone home, and I go out for a walk in Geneva. It is an exceptionally pleasant evening, the streets are deserted and the bars and restaurants filled with life, everything seems absolutely calm, in order, pretty, and then all of a sudden…

All of a sudden it strikes me that I am absolutely alone.

Of course I have often been alone this year. And “of course”, somewhere two hours from here by plane, my wife waits for me. It is obvious too that after a day filled with activities like today, nothing better than to stroll through the lanes and narrow alleys of the old town without having to say anything to anyone, just contemplating the beauty all around me. Except that tonight, for some reason that I am unaware of, this feeling of solitude is utterly oppressive and anguishing – I have nobody to share the city with on this stroll, nobody to share the comments that I would like to make.

Of course, I have a mobile telephone in my pocket and a reasonable number of friends here, but I feel it is a bit too late to call anyone. I consider the possibility of going into one of the bars and ordering myself a drink – almost certainly, someone would recognize me and invite me to join them. But I also think that it is important to go deep to the bottom of this emptiness, this sensation that it does not matter to anybody whether we exist or not, and so I carry on walking.

I see a fountain and remember I was here last year with a Russian painter lady who had just illustrated a text that I had written for Amnesty International. On that day we hardly exchanged a word, just listened to the water splashing and the music of a violin coming from far away. We were both wrapped in our thoughts, yet both of us knew that although distant, we were not alone.

I walk on for a bit, heading for the Cathedral. Through a half-open window on the other side of the street, I see a family chatting together; this only makes the sensation of loneliness grow immensely, now the evening stroll has turned into a journey into night trying to understand what it is to feel utterly alone.


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